Muslim women in India reject 'triple talaq', polygamy: Survey

Published: August 21, 2015
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Muslim brides wait for the start of their mass marriage ceremony in Mumbai May 11, 2014. PHOTO: REUTERS

Muslim brides wait for the start of their mass marriage ceremony in Mumbai May 11, 2014. PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW DELHI: More than 90 per cent of Muslim women surveyed in India want the “triple talaq” divorce ritual and polygamy banned from family civil law in the country, a study by a women’s rights organisation said on Friday.

The Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA) said its survey also showed that three quarters of interviewees wanted a ban on child marriage, indicating a need for reforms in the Muslim personal law which governs family-related issues in India.

Activists say the current law discriminates against women and are calling for a well-defined Muslim law that criminalises polygamy, unilateral divorce, child custody and child marriage.

Read: Preventing child marriages

“It (the survey) suggests that Muslim women are aware of their legal rights and are determined to attain justice in family matters. An overwhelming number of women demand reforms in Muslim personal law as is prevalent in India today,” said a statement from the BMMA.

“They want an elaborate codified law based on the Koranic justice framework to cover matters such as age of marriage, divorce procedures, polygamy, maintenance and custody of children.”

Muslims are India’s largest religious minority, making up more than 13 per cent of the country’s 1.2 billion population, yet government data shows they are among some of the most excluded and marginalised communities.

Social indicators amongst Muslim women in particular are lower than average in the country.

For example, the literacy rate for Muslim women is just 50 percent compared to nearly 68 per cent for Muslim men, and below the national average for women of 53 per cent, said the report.

Only one in 100 Muslim women are graduates, while an average of 37 per cent of Indian women overall have had a tertiary education, it added.

The BMMA said that while there was an urgent need to improve Muslim women’s access to healthcare, education and employment, it was also essential to address their “legal marginalisation”.

The study, which surveyed 4,710 Muslim married women across 10 Indian states, found nearly 92 per cent of respondents said a Muslim man should not be allowed to have another wife during the first marriage.

It also found that more than 88 per cent of women interviewed wanted the legal divorce method to be the “talaq-e-ahsan” method — a practice spread over a period of 90 days and involving negotiation.

Many women surveyed had experienced triple talaq, under which a Muslim man can repeat the word “talaq” three times to divorce his wife.

The survey said some respondents were divorced orally, others by letters from their husbands, and some over the phone or by SMS. More than 78 per cent had no say in the decision.

“The study has brought out a major injustice faced by Indian Muslim women through decades in the form of oral unilateral divorce or triple talaq,” said the report.

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Reader Comments (16)

  • someone
    Aug 22, 2015 - 12:19AM

    Very well done Sisters. You are the ones who would bring change into this medieval practices. Indian Supreme Court should just declare that any Muslim woman who is not satisfied with kind of Divorce, can appeal in court to get justice. Recommend

  • Fawad
    Aug 22, 2015 - 12:44AM

    More power to women, at least in India. And they are demanding it, as they are aware, educated, know their rights and demanding from government to do something for their betterment.Recommend

  • goggi (Lahore)
    Aug 22, 2015 - 1:37AM

    We the people of Subcontinent, especially Pakistan and Bangladesh, have repeatedly proven our true nature towards women! Pakistan is the first Islamic country to have a woman as a democratically elected PM followed by Bangladesh. Similarly India and Srilanka had also democratically elected PMs!

    Is this ever thinkable in any Arab country or in Iran, that a woman becomes the elected head of the state? If your answer in a BIG NO, then their macho laws have also absolutely no place in our societies.

    We strive not only for gender equality but also for the sanctity of our children who suffer lifelong and lose all their faith in life because of a sudden triple talaq.Recommend

  • Mard-e-Momin
    Aug 22, 2015 - 3:46AM

    Thank you Quaid-E-Azam for giving us our own country where we can have our own laws based on our hudood.Recommend

  • The Book Says
    Aug 22, 2015 - 7:51AM

    Absolutely indisputable. Forget the concept of women being treated as chattel.
    No society will progress unless the women are empowered and have opportunities without discrimination by men with inferiority complexes.Recommend

  • Another Indian
    Aug 22, 2015 - 8:37AM

    @Mard-e-Momin.. LOL dude.. A big thanks to Q-E-A indeed…Recommend

  • Nav
    Aug 22, 2015 - 8:43AM

    The difference between Christians, Jains, Buddhists, Hindus, Parsis, Jews, Sikhs, Bahais woman etc.. and the Muslim woman is that the level of education in Muslim woman and support they get in home for education is very low. Educated mothers have upper hand over uneducated mothers when bringing up children. 1 or 2 generations of educated mothers will make major change in the quality of life of whole family.Recommend

  • Foto
    Aug 22, 2015 - 8:50AM

    @Mard-e-Momin:

    Thank you Quaid-E-Azam for giving us our own country where we can have our own laws based on our hudood.

    Exactly. These women are willing to sell their golden afterlife for some short term benefits in this life. Thankfully Pakistani women are too smart, independent and educated in the matter of soul. They will never agree to subvert the law of Allah (swt). Recommend

  • hari
    Aug 22, 2015 - 9:06AM

    India will grow stronger by the integration of the Muslim women in to the mainstream more. Now we have a govt. Who will implement this. Also BJP will find a foothold among Muslim women for the betterment they are bringing to their lives. It has begun….Recommend

  • Saud
    Aug 22, 2015 - 9:46AM

    Thanks to 1947 partition that we have our own Pakistan where the laws are fixed and women know their rights and duties.Recommend

  • Pawan
    Aug 22, 2015 - 10:24AM

    @Mard-e-Momin: With this we can see the reality that on which country the more Muslims are happy..Recommend

  • Raju Indian
    Aug 22, 2015 - 12:36PM

    @Mard-e-Momin – cant believe people like you still exist in this century. Perhaps you are from Tora Bora. Wish you are born a Muslim woman in your next birth in Pakistan.Recommend

  • Agnostic
    Aug 22, 2015 - 1:52PM

    Just goes to show that without reform, a religion can never stay relevant.Recommend

  • Anon
    Aug 22, 2015 - 2:38PM

    Shame on India for treating its monirities this way…..this is the reason why our Quaid created a separate nation……all Muslim women and men should return back to Pakistan live according to Islam and Shariah….Recommend

  • observer
    Aug 23, 2015 - 9:43PM

    “Activists say the current law discriminates against women and are calling for a well-defined Muslim law that criminalises polygamy, unilateral divorce, child custody and child marriage.”

    These women are committing blasphemy by making demands against polygamy, child marriage and triple talaq which are all codified by divine law.Recommend

  • Raja
    Aug 24, 2015 - 8:44PM

    Anon: Return to Shariah law? LOL Do you even know the Islamic way of divorce? It is from the Shariah law this “Talaq” has come into picture!!

    Recommend

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